Brooklyn in Love and at War

History of World War Two Told Through Letters

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day!

I really mean that.  I like to think that I refrain from giving in to commercially based holidays but once they arrive I can’t help but get swept up in the mushy family love fest. There is so much to say about mothers that I’ve decided to make this week Mother’s Week on the blog. Over the next week I want to pay some true respect to mothers, grandmothers, and women in general. But while it might get pretty corny soon, allow for some of the skepticism included in today’s post.

Me and My Mom

My mom is pretty great, if I do say so myself. Her numerous professional, academic and personal achievements are certainly what I admire her for the most as a woman and a role model. But it might also be mentioned that she is a three-time cancer survivor. Today, much more than in years past, it struck me that Mother’s Day has become a vehicle for talking about breast cancer. Today, even the Yankees were batting with pink bats and wearing ribbons. Because it seemed so much more prevelant than ever before I began to wonder about what it means. Are we, as a culture, more comfortable talking about illness on a national level? I hate to be too cynical but I don’t think this is the case. Our “discussion” of breast cancer is still painted pink and made as feminine as possible.  The talk about finding a cure is couched among words like faith, love and hope. These words are fine in their own right. Everyone can use faith, love and hope every day of their lives. But breast cancer is consistently linked with the domestic, not the scientific.  (I will add that I’ve seen some sassy and creative breast cancer awareness slogans of late that I quite like.)  Are cancer rates rising to such a degree that when anyone in the country thinks of mothers they also think about cancer? Or is this solely a product of excellent branding of the Susan G. Komen foundation? Whatever it is, breast cancer is second only to lung cancer in the deaths of American women (I won’t address the disparities in mortality rates based on economic class and race). For now, I’ll just say get mammograms and stay healthy, ladies.

Celebrating mothers can be traced back to the most ancient civilizations but – according to our reliable friends at Wikipedia – it was Anna Jarvis who is credited with “creating” the holiday to honor mothers in the United States. Woodrow Wilson made it an official holiday in 1914.  Ms. Jarvis herself, however, soon came to deeply regret the commercialization of the holiday and vocally criticized the greeting card industry and the people who bought those greeting cards. This is what I find most interesting: Mother’s Day is the most popular day of the year to dine out (National Restaurant Association). What does this say?

Moms still do most of the cooking. So when it is their day off, we all go out to eat.


3 comments on “Happy Mother’s Day!

  1. slamdunk
    May 10, 2010

    Good post and I hope your mom likes the nice things that you said about her.

  2. kathy conway
    May 10, 2010

    Dear Molly,

    As your mother, I especially liked this blog! I agree with your critique of the commercialization of Mother’s Day while also loving any chance to celebrate as a family. By the way, Nicholas Kristof reported in the NY Times yesterday that Americans spend $14 billion dollars on Mother’s day – enough to pay for primary school for 60 million girls around the world who aren’t attending school with enough left over to significantly reduce deaths in childbirth. Now there’s a project for you!

  3. Maureen
    May 11, 2010

    Dear Molly,

    I really enjoyed this blog. Especially where you write about my wonderful sister.

    Kathy’s reply about the $14 million spent on mother’s day was shocking. The idea of what that money could be put towards. I will tell you that my children did not partake in any mother’s day spending.:( I survived with the hugs and the love given to me.

    Keep up the blogging. I am really enjoying it. Can’t wait to see you in June.

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This entry was posted on May 9, 2010 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , .
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